Soap opera Pandya Store has been massively popular ever since it premiered in January 2021 and it recently crossed 700 episodes.
Actor Kanwar Dhillon has won praise for his portrayal of Shiva Pandya in the family drama pulling in audiences on Star Plus and streaming site Hotstar. This adds to an acting journey, which started as a teenager in The Buddy Project in 2012 and led him to playing a variety of characters in shows from diverse genres.
Eastern Eye caught up with the talented performer to discuss his terrific time on television, Pandya Store success, future hopes, and inspirations.
How do you reflect on your journey as an actor?
My journey as an actor has been great, and I am thankful to God that he has always paved the way for me. From a clueless 18-year-old boy randomly landing at an audition for a project to beginning my career with a negative role and then waiting consciously for a lead role, and bagging shows like Hum Hain Na, Piya Rangrezz, Ek Aastha Aisi Bhee, and Do Dil Ek Jaan.
Now I am here in Pandya Store, a very popular and long-running show. The whole journey, with ups and downs, has been great. I have succeeded in what I had wanted to do since I was a kid. I am grateful to audiences for always accepting me with open arms in each project.
Which of your characters has been the closest to your heart?
Addu and Munna, the two names I had for my character in Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha, because it was my first shot at fame. I was in college at that point, and the whole vibe around me changed after my episode aired. That character and the whole experience will always be very special.
After that, Bunty Bhaiya from Hum Hain Na was a loveable character. The local vendors still call me Bunty Bhaiya. People welcomed me with open arms into the lead category with that. Now, Shiva Pandya tops the list, and I hope the next one is bigger and better. Shiva Pandya has given me a whole new identity.
Which project challenged you the most?
Every project is a challenge and teaches you something. With Na Bole Tum NaMaine Kuch Kaha, I learned how to express myself without saying much. With Hum Hain Na, I had to work on my diction and dialect because I was playing the role of a guy from Varanasi. With Piya Rangrezz I worked on my fitness and with Ek Aastha Aisi Bhee, I played a character who believed in God a lot. With Internet Wala Love I realised that I don’t want to play a negative role again. Shiv in Pandya Store enabled me to really work deeply on my acting skills and find new ways to connect with audiences – that’s why I love it. Every show has been a challenge.
What has the journey on Pandya Store been like?
It’s been a great rollercoaster ride. It’s been two years now, and more than 700 episodes. It has been an amazing journey and I hope that it continues for years to come. Pandya Store and my character Shiva has been important for my career. I am glad it came my way.
Why do you think the show is so popular?
The show is popular because its content has been very good, and we have a good set of actors. We have a brilliant channel supporting us, and a good production house. Pandya Store is also very relatable and is not a single-character-driven show, with all the family going through their own problems.
Have you learned anything new while working on Pandya Store? Pandya Store made me learn how to adapt to sudden super success and fame. I got fame with each project I did, but Pandya Store just changed the game for me. It kind of opened a third eye to see people suddenly change seeing me get successful, including those who treated me differently when I was without work before Pandya Store. I have learned to observe people and adapt to changes.
What’s the master plan going forward?
I don’t think I have a master plan. I just want to keep working hard, stay focused, and dig for different roles. I want to do more projects on TV and other mediums as well, including taking a deep dive into the OTT world because there is a wide range of content made there. I am waiting for some good juicy roles to come my way. Apart from OTT, I dream of being on the big screen in a Yash Raj film.
Who would you love to work with?
I would love to work with Alia Bhatt. She is the one actor I admire a lot. The wide range of roles she has done is amazing. Gangubai Kathiawadi was one of her finest performances. Also, we share the same birthdate, so we might get along well.
What do you enjoy watching as an audience?
I love to watch anything entertaining like Breaking Bad, which is by far the best show for me. I also love series such as Stranger Things, Farzi, The Family Man, and Sacred Games.
Finally, what would you say inspires you as an actor?
When I watch good performances, it automatically inspires me as an actor. When I like a particular performance, I try to reach out to the person. I did that with Pratik Gandhi when I saw his Amazon show, Scam. I love Siddharth Chaturvedi in Gully Boy.
I think, as an actor, it is very important to get inspired and inspire others as well.